Sunday, July 21, 2013

devoted (a poem by Victoria)

Lonely, lacking, lost in life;
Selfish, saddened, shattered, strife...

Calvary's cross! Creator-Christ, I cry!
Hallowed, heavenly, Hero on high;

Renew, replenish, redeem, restore;
Forgive me free! Favor forevermore!

Merciful and mighty, my Messiah molds me and moves;
Purchased, protected... the Prince of Peace powerfully proves!

With wonder, with worship, I walk well in His Way;
Abiding and amazed at Almighty's accomplished array!

Now near and nourished, nothing else need be noted.
Delighted, determined....  Dear Divine, I'm devoted!

Be Blessed!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

support: a firm foundation

As I have grown older, I've noticed that "the girls" (my breasts) have needed a little more attention and support than before.

MY HUSBAND: "WHOA!.... Move over!  Excuse me... I'm coming, Baby!!!...."  (Chuck climbs over a few stalking readers with his arms extended... promptly wrestling to be as close to me as possible and ready to accommodate my every need.)

LOL.  Honey, I'm fine.  I'm referring to the new bras and panties I've been shopping for.

MY HUSBAND: "Oh... OK.  Well, I'm right here if you need me!  Really, no trouble at all!"

Thank you, Dear.  Just give me a few more minutes with my readers and then I'm all yours!...

Anyway, as I've gotten older the strangest thing has been happening... "the girls" have... shall we say, enlarged - even though I have been shrinking in size and losing weight.  (I know - weird.)  As such, these days I have been on the hunt for the perfect, most comfortable, well-fitting bra and panties.

Now, I don't know why I don't already know this, but shopping for new undergarments is no small task for us gals.  I have learned that when the specialty lingerie boutique measures my size and proclaims in all certainty that I am a 40DD, it does not insure that every bra out there will fit me correctly.  No, it's more work than that.  In fact, sizing has only given me a baseline to work from.  For no two bras seem to fit the same.  Some, I do better in a 40D, and some a 38DD.  In the end, what is most important is how something fits me, not what their label says.

So, on the search I've been.  I've tried on extremely well-made, and highly priced "investment" bras and panties from Paris and London, and I've sampled the more local microfiber t-shirt wonder-secrets in all styles and colors imaginable. And now that I am closing in on purchasing all the winning combinations of form, fashion, and function to serve my wardrobe, I am amazed to learn that I have been walking around for decades uncomfortable in my undergarments... and it was unnecessary!  No more jabbing in the back.  No more readjusting straps.  No more itchy, unsupportive cups.  No more!  Now, I am comfortable.... and supported correctly.  I have the right foundation to build my outfits and image upon. Furthermore, I feel special and pretty because these new, improved undergarments are also gorgeously constructed with the very best fabrics and laces available.

All this got me thinking today about my beautiful Jesus.  (Yes, my bra and pantie shopping has made me stop and think about the King of kings!)  For He is the best foundation of all.  He is my ultimate support, and with Him, I have true peace and comfort.  Just like a good bra that conforms perfectly to my frame, God wants me to conform myself to His gorgeous image so that I might live structured in His Way.  In turn, He will supply all the support and security I need to then dress myself in His very best... His holiness!

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (Isaiah 33:6)

No more days allowing Satan access to the ground floor so that he may continue to jab my vulnerable back.  No more years of readjusting my posture to the whims of my own unstable and unsupportive ways.  No more!  I have learned to first dress myself in Jesus!  For in Christ, I am always covered correctly.  He is better.  He fits.  He matches every need with His perfect, incomprehensible love.  A love not to be limited by human measurement, but rather to be put on and worn comfortably, confidently... so that I too, may display His unending grace.  A grace that is much greater than all my sins.  Yes, He is my reinforcement... my only support and deliverer.  Those wanna-be foundations filled with their holes and cracks can't compare to God's gorgeously constructed plans for all eternity.  Hallelujah!  He is a Wonder!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.  In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession - to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14)

Ladies, we have been invited by the King to put on His robe of inheritance... to wear His garment of grace!  We have be offered the surest, richest, and most lavish foundation in Jesus because He alone can stabilize us and unify our whole life through His purpose.  His salvation is our undergarment and assurance.  His love is our dressing.  His Word is our strength and armor.  So seek Him first, for He is the only One who will fit all your needs properly.  Put Him on and build your image upon His glory. Feel special because you are new and improved under His gorgeously constructed love.

Today, conform your image to the Savior's Way and believe that He has full and lavish plans for your future!  For Jesus is your Heavenly Husband!  As such, wear His Name confidently!  He has gone to great lengths to be with you... to be the One closest to your heart.  And He is ready, soooo ready, to accommodate and supply and support you.  Why?  Because He always considers you beautiful and worthy...  He loves you more than His own life!  Yes, He is right here, right now... because He knows you need Him most to LIVE.  So, need Him, Believer!  Love Him in return with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength!  God’s solid foundation stands firm.  His Way is better forever.  Amen!

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  (Matthew 24:35)



Friday, July 5, 2013

a study in Philippians 4: practice makes perfect (part 11)

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. (Philippians 4:9)

And the God of peace will be with you. For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11b-13)

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

We've reached the end of our study in Philippians 4. Paul has charged every Christian to rejoice in the Lord always, allowing His love and gentleness to be evidently seen through us. He has called us to relax in the Savior... to not be anxious or worry about our future, but rather spend our days focusing on the unique and kingdom-building blessings of our eternal hope in the Lord. He shows us why we must always glorify God's presence and acknowledge His truth, nobility, righteousness, purity, loveliness, admiralty, excellence, and praiseworthiness.

But now, the most important lesson of all is about to be laid out. Here, the apostle will teach us that the consideration of these evidences, and the worship of our Savior, will indeed guarantee us peace... will certainly give us strength... and will definitively meet all our needs. But here's the thing... we must put our faith into practice. We must not only think about such things, but we must live them. We must believe that this is our new Way of life -- the new path that Jesus has given us to follow. There is no more room for excusing sin. There is not a place where grumbling is acceptable. No, we are to always... ALWAYS... rejoice!!!! We are to always be gentle as we showcase God's holy house within us and be pleased to meditate on and share His majesty with anyone we meet. We are to live as ambassadors, representing His throne... representing a new economy... a new people.

Even when faced with every brokenness produced from the sin of this corrupt world, we must still choose to stand firm in Christ. Yes, we are to cling to the security of our Redeemer and know that we can surely rejoice in His newness, no matter what happens in our day-to-day. Why? Because Jesus abides closely in us. He has given us what we need when we live in practice of seeking Him. He strengthens us as we remain strong in His characteristics. And He graciously provides moment-by-moment glimpses of His perfect glory that yes... one day we will fully see and know completely in His presence! Read Paul's words from earlier chapters and consider his only focus...

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:13b-21)

Ladies, we are to "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5) We are to always rejoice in the Lord and love love love love LOVE because His Way guarantees us a full and peaceful LIFE! Let us take to heart Paul's instruction and put into practice a life that honors Jesus' Name. After all, practice makes perfect, right?

So, forget the old way... put it behind you. Let's press on toward the goal and win that prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. For as Peter so eloquently agreed later in scripture, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:3-8)

Yes, today is the day to be an active participant in God's divine nature! Jesus is our beloved, and we are His! So, let's allow the Master to build our faith strong as we obediently and deliberately put into practice His goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, affection, and love. Let us rejoice and think about ALL HE IS while allowing His gentle, transforming grace to change all we once were! For, ladies... to live is Christ! There can be nothing else. There can be no one else.

Come... let us unite and fully know His complete and satisfying perfection, shall we? Come... let us put into practice our adoration and complete devotion only to Jesus, the King of kings!!!!



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

a study in Philippians 4: whatever is excellent or praiseworthy (part 10)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

Whatever is excellent or praiseworthy...

Yesterday, I was praying over what God wanted me to write about in today's blog, and I began thinking about my Christian life, and how, as a devoted woman, I am to be a living sacrifice to God. I considered the verses in 1 Corinthians 6 where scripture refers to my body as a "temple" of the Holy Spirit. I thought of how we, as Christians, do not belong to ourselves, but rather belong to Jesus who quite literally bought us with His own shed blood while dying on the cross.

I kept thinking about the word "temple"... and how the biblical temple before Christ's death represented the earthly dwelling place and home of God’s presence. You see, during the lifetime of Jesus, the holy temple in Jerusalem was the hub of all Jewish religious life. However, when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn and God moved out - never again to dwell in a temple made by human hands, but rather to live in the hearts of those who believe in His only Son.

While considering all this, I began thinking about Paul's charge to us in Philippians 4... to think about whatever is excellent and praiseworthy. How in this, he calls every Christian to seek the best in all situations and circumstances... to be positive and encouraging while motivating others with the eternal hope we have set before us. And it dawned on me that each of us (each believer redeemed by Jesus Christ) should be a joyful, warm "home" to others. Our hearts should be welcoming, comforting and uplifting - as one's own house should feel to a person. Yes, as living sacrifices, we should strive to present ourselves as a walking/talking retreat that houses the very presence of God within us and invites others to come inside and experience His love and peace... His gentle, quiet and nurturing Spirit... His perfect, honest, uplifting truths.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

To be a people focused on whatever is excellent and praiseworthy, we must be willing to exemplify the unfathomable love and eternal blessing of the Almighty God who abides within us. We must invite everyone we meet to come in and be restored... to enjoy the beauty of His exquisite kingdom... to feast upon the bounty of His rich table... to bathe in the soothing pools of His still and quiet waters. His magnificence demands all attention and adoration. His home is a house always clean and tidy... always relaxed and snuggly... always holy, holy, holy.

Ladies, I encourage you to consider how welcoming and open your temple door is to love the Lord God and others with everything you've got. I further encourage you to consider how true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable you have furnished your inner surroundings. Is your house a place that is aesthetically pleasing to the King? Is it residentially sound - standing firm and allowing God's goodness and grace to be pillars clearly seen by all who enter... or perhaps even to those who may walk by and poke their noses against a window? Are you one whose spiritual foundation is as appealing as a beloved friend with extended, open arms? One who nurtures and nourishes? One who respects and is thankful? One who sees hope, knows joy, lives free, builds up? I encourage you to forever pray, assess, and think over these things. Ask God to build His new construction within. Trust and obey His Word. Invite the Savior home to live, and be willing to always cater to His party and plan.

Yes, this is the day to become God's living temple! This is the day to showcase His excellence and praise His wonderful Name! This is the day to invite others into His happy, holy home! After all, home is where the heart is, right?

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:1-5)

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

up late... making desserts!

a study in Philippians 4: whatever is admirable (part 9)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

Whatever is admirable...

Today, let's consider what Paul meant when He encouraged the church at Philippi to think about whatever is admirable. I believe it was to inspire us to focus on the perfect strategy of our King and Supreme Commander rather than on the corruptible things of this world.

Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war.
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before!

You see, Paul knew that every believer shares an important role in God's army. To live admirably, we must show up and give Him our full attention - ready to receive and carry out His orders so that we can fulfill His mission rather than fumble through life as a weak, lukewarm link in His chain of command. Jesus calls us to come clothed in His Word, and always ready to stand firm and give a good report of His eternal hope. We are to revere Him as Leader and bravely stand against all threats in His Name. Yes, our full allegiance to God is vital. Because we can live victorious when we trust His headship and allow Him to oversee the win of every battle laid out before us. For He is more than capable. He is the proven Captain of the Lord of Hosts whose commands are good and intended to advance us forward in His grace.

Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:14b-15a)

Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The LORD Almighty is mustering an army for war. (Isaiah 13:4)

Christ, the royal Master,
Leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
See His banner go!

Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight. (1 Chronicles 19:13)

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16)

Onward, then ye people,
Join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices
In the triumph song;
Glory, laud, and honor,
Unto Christ the King:
This through countless ages
Men and angels sing.

Ladies, we belong to Christ alone. As His people, we carry His cross and wage war against His enemies. In Him, we have the authority to oppose every evil. So, let us suit up in His Word and armor ourselves with His love. Let us turn our cheeks to those who strike, and pray for those who curse. Our mission is laid out wisely through His higher ways. He outshines all earthly logic and will overcome every sinful tactic produced from this broken world. Yes, the Messiah calls us to surrender ourselves in order to succeed... to sacrifice in order to gain His glory. Our sanctuary is secure in His presence. He is our fortress in all times of trouble. So, let us think about these admirable things and never waver from His game plan. For "when calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God." (Proverbs 14:32)

Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war.
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before!

I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. (Psalm 18:1-2, 17)
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)



Monday, July 1, 2013

yummy fruit for breakfast!

a study in Philippians 4: whatever is lovely (part 8)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

Whatever is lovely...

I love the word "lovely". Just like the word "grace" it sounds so classy, doesn't it? I love how it encourages the idea of special endearment and at the same time honors true beauty. Scripture often uses the word "lovely" whenever it portrays someone who is pleasing to the eye. So here, Paul is encouraging the church at Philippi to think about whatever is delightful and pleasing in the eyes of God? Of course, this is especially important to us as Christian women because we all want to be thought of as lovely and beautiful in the Savior's sight.

But what does God view as pleasing and beautiful? The answer is laid out in Romans chapter 12:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Yes, God sees our worship and obedience as lovely. He views our genuine sacrifice as a holy, pleasing, and proper offering. As such, we are considered beautiful to the King of kings when we joyfully demonstrate on the outside our exclusive devotion to Jesus on the inside. So, what does loveliness entail? Read on in Romans 12...

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

Ladies, to be lovely to God, we must receive and worship His only Son, Jesus Christ. For His Way uses our worship to overcome evil with good. That's incredible, isn't it? We are actually called to productively overcome evil with His good! So, true beauty is demonstrated through our living sacrifice, and (as we learned earlier in this series) sacrifice and obedience to God will always lead us into righteousness. Not only are those who believe saved and becoming new creatures in Jesus Name, but when we choose to submit every word and every deed over to the Savior, we become part of His eternal, loving solution. God literally uses us to display His love in action. What an honor, right? For the kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, "because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:18b-19)

Throughout the Bible, we see this quality of loveliness in those who remain pure and closely aligned with God - those who understand how important His mercies should be viewed and sought after. You see, Jesus has freely given everything to us that we don’t deserve: love, grace, peace, joy, faith, comfort, hope, wisdom, patience, strength, security, reconciliation, justification, sanctification, intercession, freedom, etc. Those who know and accept His truths can't help but acknowledge and share His incredible love with others. We can't help but worship with our very lives. For His worship is what we were always intended to do. This is why man was created by God and for God. As such, to be seen lovely in our Creator's eyes must include Christ's merciful restoration so that we may be useful in fulfilling our kingdom purpose. With His beauty and grace, we are compelled to praise and worship Jesus' Name while outwardly reflecting His perfection. How cool is that?!!!

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Can you hear Paul's call to first think about rejoicing in the Lord always and then second to demonstrate His lovely Ways through our sacrificial worship? For God's mercies are new every morning! So, let's live for Jesus rather than for ourselves! Let's live as part of God's perfect, everlasting solution rather than waste moments feeding a selfish agenda. This is the time to renew our minds in His Word and share the truth of a noble, righteous Redeemer. This is the day we must run away from sin and abide purely in our Master's eyes. Yes, loveliness is precious to God because it demonstrates true, visible love in real, human time. So, let's become sincerely lovely and hate evil. Lets cling to what is good. Let's honor others and keep our spiritual fervor as we surrender ourselves and become super models of His gorgeous, gentle grace! For our God reigns eternally supreme!

This is the day to think about such things! WOO HOO!

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)